Emilio Chan, Maya priest and curandero

Don Emilio chan

Don Emilio Chan

Emilio Chan lives in the village of Huhi. He apprenticed with a x’men (shaman) there. He says that after years of training and study, the old priest pronounced Emilio ready and granted him the title and authority to carry on the ancient Maya practices. The priest died three days after having released Emilio Chan with his blessing. The old man, who lived in the forest, was 116 years old.

The other day, we watched Don Emilio cleanse and bless a building. He used candles, incense (honey and orange), water, and various plants. He prayed and sang in Maya, which was translated for us.

Don Emilio Chan using a plant he calls cinpche

Don Emilio Chan using a plant he calls cinpche

You can see the candles in the photo above. They are placed, along with a cup of water, at the four cardinal points of the room. He talked about the winds and weather systems that affect our area and how they are different depending on their direction of origin. For instance, the winds from the north bring rain.

Items used in rituals

He was dressed all in white with the cinpche plant tied to his body in various places. He was wearing a cross, which he said represents the four directions of the wind, and a number of other amulets.

Amulets are for protection

Amulets are for protection



Don Emilio is available for hire. He will do house blessings, funerals, anniversaries, or perform a Maya wedding. He also gets rid of bad spirits and vibrations wherever they may be in your life. He cleanses buildings – homes and businesses, ranches, and water. Wouldn’t it be great to have a Maya wedding?

Don Emilio is a curandero (medicine man) and you can consult with him for 300 pesos. He may prescribe specialized massages that he does, or the use of herbs and plants.

We asked Don Emilio whether he had any apprentices and he sadly said no. He said that most young people, after exposure to Christianity, think that what he does is on the dark side, bordering on magic. Another problem is that the learning program requires that they not smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or take any drugs. He says few young people are willing to commit to this lifestyle.

We talked about the loss of the Maya culture even in the villages. We may be looking at our last generation of x’mens. I asked whether you had to be a Maya to become a Maya priest. He said you didn’t have to be born a Maya, but you had to become one.

You can reach Don Emilio Chan on his cell phone. 999-165-4986

About BG

Beryl Gorbman is a writer and private investigator who divides her time between Seattle WA and Merida Yucatan Mexico. She has published two works of fiction, 2012: Deadly Awakening, and Madrugada. They are both available on Amazon and other outlets. Also at Amate Books, and Casa Catherwood in Merida. You can read about them in various articles on this site.
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11 Responses to Emilio Chan, Maya priest and curandero

  1. Soňa Králová says:

    I would have loved to be there. But I spent 7 weeks with the Xochimilco shaman Xolotl in Prague last September and that was wonderful. I am very glad this is happening. There are many Czechs who would gladly become his apprentices.

  2. Karen says:

    Wow…Lovely article and what great work. Alas, unfortunately that he has no students, at least currently. I’ve seen things come around and I know a few massage therapists who are using many Maya healing traditions.
    There are always those that look at it through the lens of fear and the dark side, some Christian, some not….but I embrace it all.
    Thank you…love to know about him and will look into further on my return trip.

  3. Roberta says:

    Good article about the shaman. It is sad that there are so few to continue the tradition. We were in Ecuador about ten years ago and spent a week in the jungle. We met a shaman who told us that he had been trained by a shaman who was 105 [or maybe 110] years old. Makes me wonder about the accuracy of the ages of these men. Can they all possibly live to be so old? Anyway, I have bookmarked your website and will stop by often.

  4. Richard says:

    Your Curandero piece should get wider distribution..

  5. Thanks for this excellent post. This is an important resource to have and I am glad I now have it.

  6. Hi Beryl,

    There is another Maya priest and curandero who is actively working to rescue
    the ancient Maya traditions. We would love to have you join us and do
    another article on ceremonies and Maya priests. There seem to be more and
    more of them wanting to share their knowledge. I want to support their work
    however I can.

    Let me know if you can join us in June. I heard the last ceremony he did
    attracted 250 people, mostly Mexicans, so it might be an interesting event.
    They are expecting between 30 and 80 but there really is no way of knowing
    who will show up.

    Last time he tried to do this in Izamal (about 10 years ago) the monks shut
    him down, chased everyone away saying it was a pagan ritual and all that
    stuff. Be interesting to see what happens this time.

    If any one else wishes to participate, they can contact me at http://www.iluminado-tours.com or by calling (52) 999-924-3176


  7. BG says:

    Trudy’s event (above) sounds like something I’d like to go to and probably will. For those of you who don’t know about it, there is a fabulous lodging in Izamal called Macanche. Vegetarian food, marvelous gardens, nice people. I’m fascinated with the “walking tree” in the garden. Check it out.

  8. jillian says:

    beryl, you’re so great because you are tuned in to this authentic element, which is amazingly cool to learn about, but also always funny and wry and real. thanks for writing genuinely compelling stuff for this often lousy internet.

  9. Saari Soliz says:

    Thank you for offering this beautiful information. It comes to me as a blessing. I have been receiving messages from shaman in Merida. He lived in the Jungle near there, his name was Don Jorge. Anyway, he keeps telling me I need to go to Merida and I believe that the information you have provided will help guide me to Curanderos that can assist.

    Thank you and Many Blessings!!!

  10. Daniel Pineda says:

    Hi, I have been trying to reach Mr. Chan but it seems that his number have changed… Do you know his actuall number? Is there any chance you can help me with that or tell me where can I find him? Thank you very much.

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